I’d like to begin by saying that Dan Fogleman owes all This Is Us fans comped therapy sessions for what we have gone through thus far in season 2. Not to mention that Ken Olin has already confirmed on Twitter that the next two episodes will be upsetting as well. Great.
This episode once again wove in and out of the 90’s and the present so it’s easier to tackle it by seperating the two.
Let’s begin with the 90’s. It’s Super Bowl Sunday and it’s the last one with the kids at home before they graduate high school. Jack and Rebecca and preparing lots of food and looking forward to watching the game with the big three, but things don’t go how they planned.
Kate finds out she made the final rounds for Berklee School of Music and needs to submit an audition. Jack offers to film her and she refuses to be on camera and insists on sending in a voice recording instead. While Kate is sing Jack secretly videotapes her performance and she gets angry. He apologizes but explains that he doesn’t want her to be ashamed of the way she looks. Kate tells him that no one else sees her the way he does and the more he tells her she’s beautiful it just hurts more because it just reminds her that no one else sees it. Kate watches the tape back and sees her dad’s face in the mirror and sees how happy he is watching her. She tells Jack that she doesn’t want him to stop trying to make her see herself the way he sees her. Kate asks Jack if she can go to her friend’s Super Bowl party instead of watching it at home and Jack agrees, although you can tell he wants her to stay.
Randall is dating the girl he asked out in the mall, Allison, and chooses to skip the game to take her to see Titanic for the seventh time. He asks Jack if it’s okay if he takes her to the movies instead of watching the game and again, reluctantly Jack agrees.
Kevin finds out that Sophie got into NYU and is angry that his only options are community colleges until he gets his grades up since he lost his chance at a scholarship with a broken leg. He takes it out on his parents and basically tells them he doesn’t want to end up like them.
Although the last with the super bowl with the kids didn’t go as planned but Jack and Rebecca had time to talk about their future. Jack decided to not quit his job just yet but instead build a clientele by buying and flipping houses. Rebecca surprises him by finding a listing in the paper and went ahead and called and left a message. Jack asks Rebecca to be his business partner and she agrees.
Kevin calls and apologizes to Rebecca and asks if Jack is mad. She tells him that he isn’t mad but his feelings are hurt asks if Kevin wants to come home or just talk to him on the phone but he says that he is spending the night at Sophie’s.
Jack wakes up when Randall gets home and they start talking in the kitchen. Randall tells Jack that he and Allison finally kissed and Jack is happy for him but asks him if he was respectful and said he was. Duh Jack, it’s Randall.
Jack puts up all the food from and cleans up the kitchen as Rebecca sleeps. He writes Kevin a note saying that he loves him and that Kevin owes Jack and Rebecca an apology and tapes it on his bedroom door. Jack continues to clean and pets the dog and turns off the crockpot. We then see a flashback to when Rebecca was pregnant and a neighbor gives them his used crockpot as a gift because he and is wife are getting ready to move. He mentions that you have to “fiddle with the switch, but it works.” At this point I’m screaming because we know the damn crockpot is going to start the fire. Now, back to the 90’s, the crockpot catches on fire burning the house as we see memories that the family have shared together in the house. Because watching the home burn was not traumatic enough, let’s add sweet memories of the big three as babies. That’ll make it better. And of course they have to have a song playing in the background about a home.
Although we know the cause of the fire, we don’t necessarily know how Jack dies. Yes, it will be that night, but what if his death isn’t fire related? I feel like they could be throwing us off a bit. One thing we know for sure, is that Kate’s dog must be connected some how since she keeps saying she blames herself and she is hesitant to own another dog. The most believable theory would be that Jack attempts to save the dog in the fire and dies in the process.
Ok, fast forward to 2018 where Randall and Beth have their first meeting with the tenants of the building they purchased. Beth warns Randall to go slow and not commit to making too many changes for the tenants. Randall agrees yet during the meeting of course agrees to fix everyone’s problems, which is pretty much impossible. Listen to your wife, Randall!
In a flashback Jack tells teenaged Kevin that anytime he wants to reach for a drink he picks up a hammer instead. In the present Kevin decides to help Randall with his new building and insists on keeping his hands busy.
After attempting to help everyone in the building Randall discovers that there is an investation and has to evacuate the building. He goes back to get Kevin who is still working. They talk about getting older and how much time they have left. Randall says that it’s hard for him to imagine growing old because they didn’t see Jack grow old. They also mention that Jack has been gone longer than they had him. Kevin assures Randall that he will live a long life just like his other dad, William.
Beth tells Randall that he needs to slow his roll and trust her when it comes to the steps of getting the building up to code because that’s what she has experience in.
Kevin has a list of people to apologize to as a part of his recovery process and he goes to Sophie’s apartment to speak with her. He apologizes to Sophie and she forgives him but asks him to basically leave her alone and let her keep the memories she has of them as kids.
Kevin receives an envelope containing his father’s pendant that he lost after his one night stand with Charlotte. He had written a letter explaining that he was now sober and asking for her to return it. He is obviously relieved to have gotten the pendant back. He gets out his list of people to apologize to and marks Sophie’s name off but turns the list over to reveal that the one name left is “Dad”. He never got closure with Jack after their argument the night of the Super Bowl.
Kate catches Toby looking shelter dogs online. He has been secretly wanting a dog but didn’t tell her because it’s a sore subject. Kate goes to a dog shelter and finds a dog that she connects with named Audio. As she’s petting Audio she has a flashback from the day of the Super Bowl where she is petting her dog. She starts to cry and tells Audio that she can’t adopt him and it’s not his fault. She comes home and tells Toby what happened and he understands but then she surprises him with the dog. So again, the dog from her teen years has to be connected in someway with Jack’s death since it’s so painful for her.
Although it might seem like they are dragging out Jack’s death a bit, I’m actually glad that they are giving us the whole story. None of us want to be reduced down to the cause of our death. In any other drama, Jack would be briefly mentioned by his adults kids. This Is Us allows us to actually get to know Jack and see first hand how his death impacted his family.
The next episode of This Is Us will air on Sunday, February 4 after the Super Bowl.